Spin Control

WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 14, 2011, 6:07 P.M.

Baumgartner to run for the other Senate?

State Sen. Mike Baumgartner studies a bill at his desk in the Senate chamber. (Jim Camden)
State Sen. Mike Baumgartner studies a bill at his desk in the Senate chamber. (Jim Camden)

Sen. Mike Baumgartner at his desk on the Senate floor this spring. File photo.

OLYMPIA -- State Sen. Mike Baumgartner of Spokane is being discussed for the political equivalent of an upgrade, as a candidate for U.S. Senate against Democrat Maria Cantwell.

Baumgartner said Wednesday evening he's "taking a strong look at it" after being urged to get into the race by some supporters. He said he and wife Elinore will make a decision "in the next few weeks."

It would be a big jump for Baumgartner...

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...a political novice who in 2010 defeated Democratic State Sen. Chris Marr in Spokane's 6th District, in what became the most expensive state Senate race in Washington history.

A U.S. Senate race presents a contest of several whole numbers of magnitude up the political Richter Scale, of course. Between them, Baumgartner and Marr spent about $1 million on their race. That same year, the U.S. Senate candidates -- primarily Patty Murray and Dino Rossi -- spent $24.5 million. With inflation, that could go up. Cantwell has already raised $2.7 million, according to Federal Election Commission reports.

There are no GOP candidates who have gotten far enough into the race to be raising and reporting money.

One other factor to consider: An Eastern Washington resident hasn't been elected to the U.S. Senate since the 1920s.

"It would be a tremendous challenge, to be sure," Baumgartner said. He plans to weigh that challenge against a belief that the country needs to change direction and get new leadership.

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Jim Camden
Jim Camden is the Olympia bureau chief, covering the Legislature and state government. He also is a political columnist and blogger for Spin Control.

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